What training should we provide to our employees as we bring them back into the office? In this episode, Jeff Kernohan, Associate Managing Director at Kroll, will discuss the steps that should be taken before bringing all or parts of the workforce back into the office. Jeff has been in risk management for nearly 21 years, working on every imaginable element of the management of risk.

 

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Passages from the Episode

Importance of Return To the Office Training

“The environment into which your employee will be re-entering will vary, sometimes to a great extent from what they left, when your office has moved to the work-from-home models so many businesses have been using. Ensuring that employees feel comfortable with the steps taken and are aware of these changes, and how they may be impacted is paramount in a return to the office training program. The training needs to be formulated to provide all necessary detail, in all required languages, in a format that can be readily accessed by the entirety of your employee population.” – Jeff Kernohan

“First and foremost, you should implement each educational aspect noted by the CDC in the resuming business toolkit. All the topics covered are basic in nature; ensuring that you have each topic covered should be the minimum curricula for your return to the office training. Those topics include everything from the description of COVID-19 symptoms, to the proper etiquette behind coughing or sneezing in the workplace. Once you're sure that your training covers the baseline of the recommended CDC educational guidelines, you should refer to your state and county guidelines, as you will find many jurisdictions may address additional requirements for employee training, that all must be met to protect your business and employees and the return to the workplace.” – Jeff Kernohan

Five Areas of Focus in Returning to the Office

“Expanding upon the baseline of training curricula is important to ensure your personnel are aware of what additional controls may be in place when they return to the workplace. Areas that Kroll typically recommends for additional training modules can be broken down into five categories.” – Jeff Kernohan

  1. How does the entry to our building differ from the last time who came to work?
    “Many office buildings may be providing health screening, personnel count and even PPE checks on employees that are certainly well outside of their previous experience. We have found the amount of change in the building access process may vary greatly based upon property management building owner, regional COVID-19 statistics and even the type of building in which you operate. Given employees’ advanced knowledge of what to expect will greatly benefit you in properly bringing them back to the workspace.” – Jeff Kernohan
  2. How does the office function in this new social distancing, minimal-occupancy phase of returning to the workplace?
    “Do you have directional flow requirements? Have common areas been removed, adjusted? How do conference rooms work in the new occupancy count environment, and what additional operational controls may be in place as the employee returns to work? This topic really covers the most prevalent questions that your employees will have as they return to the workplace, as they seek to ensure that you are providing a safe work environment for their return. The layout of offices, cubicles, conference rooms may differ dramatically from what your employees are used to, requiring proper training, both for the comfort of the employee and the efficiency of the overall return to the office.” – Jeff Kernohan
  3. What employee assistance programs are in place for those employees returning to the workplace?
    “We've seen companies subsidizing vehicular commute costs to minimize the use of public transit, changing daily time schedules to allow employees to work different time frames that may work better with their childcare needs. And even in some rare cases, offering periodic COVID-19 tests for the workplace. Each of the employee assistance elements that you will be offering to your employees should be detailed to ensure proper utilization of the said programs.” – Jeff Kernohan
  4. What equipment/supplies/refreshments may have been removed from the office that employees should be prepared for in the return to the workplace?
    “This has ranged from the pour-over coffee-maker, to ping-pong tables, to open snacks that have, historically, been found in the break rooms. While these items may have been heavily used pre-COVID-19, if they were removed as part of your safety measures, this removal should be discussed in training. In this way, those certain mixed-use equipment and food elements that have been determined to be non-essential in the new workplace, can be presented to the workforce to ensure understanding before re-entering the office space. And to allow the coffee snobs to bring in their own specialty equipment.” – Jeff Kernohan
  5. What response mechanisms are in place for dealing with potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases?
    “Elements of trace control, recommended quarantine, the office closing and cleaning processes should be discussed for the comfort of the employees. When you have your plan curriculum together, you need to decide how best to deploy and manage participation and the necessary training for employees.” – Jeff Kernohan

Access Control Solutions

“Kroll has found a formal, video-based training to be the most efficient way to train and document participation and ensure greater retention amongst a large and varied workforce. The video training also allows, for what we have found, to be an exceedingly valuable part of the overall training to be managed, as part of the training is the complete walkthrough of new processes for arriving at and progressing through the office building and office properly. By walking through the elements in place and a video, we find personnel better fit to manage the processes and minimize impact to the daily schedule and social distancing protocols. We found this training to eliminate the common gathering at a signage, trying to determine what is expected problem, that we often see if sufficient training has not been provided. Three hundred people gathering at signs at the building's entrance to better understand the health-screening elements in place is counterproductive in both business time and social distancing principles.” – Jeff Kernohan

“Regardless of the type and amount of training you provide to your general employee workforce, as you prepare for their return to office, an additional program will be necessary for managers and all personnel that will play a role in the management of the COVID-19 safety program you deploy in the workplace. This training is at a much more detailed and specific level, and we'll cover topics such as the trace control investigation process, the management of employee presenting with symptoms in the workspace, and the enforcement of the new program across employees that they manage. Having a management team that is well-informed will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your safety program.” – Jeff Kernohan

Virtual Workplace Training

“Kroll has seen virtual tabletop exercises, virtual trace control investigations and even socially distant walkthroughs of the workplace before reopening to play a dramatic role in the effectiveness of the program upon the arrival of employees. These management personnel, to some extent, should also be in communication with the base building management team to better understand what measures will be in place and how they will be trained to allow for onsite expertise as questions arise from the employee population.” – Jeff Kernohan

Key Takeaways

“Kroll has seen first-hand how better prepared a company is for the return to workplace, when their management personnel have gone through and practiced all the elements that are going to be part of this program. Bringing together your management personnel, either virtually or in person, and training them on the actual processes—letting them test the systems, letting them actually do the work that they're going to be doing in the workplace—will allow them to be much better versed in how it's all going to work, and allow them to have firsthand experience when your employees do come to the workplace and have questions about how all this is going to function, or any concerns that they may have as they're coming back to the workplace.” – Jeff Kernohan

Talk to a Kroll Expert

Kroll is ready to help, 24/7. Use the links on this page to explore our services further or speak to a Kroll Security Risk Management expert today via our contact page.

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